Flemish Capuchin in Detroit develops app ‘Fr @ elli’

Have you never been to the Franciscan Experience Center of the Capuchin Monastery in Meersel-Dreef? Then you should definitely go. With the app fr @ ellic (Apple Store and Google Play) you can dive even deeper into it. The app is primarily intended to give visitors (think of classes, formations or other groups) the opportunity to linger a little longer on what they have seen and experienced in the center. But even without a visit to the center, the app offers you a fresh and inspiring exploration of the Hymn of Creation, the story of the wolf from Gubbio and so on.

Igor de Bliquy is rightly proud of the team that helped make the app possible. It will also be used in Detroit for youth work. The app is therefore immediately available in 2 languages. And then a beautiful bridge is built between the American city and the Meersel-Dreef.

What is life like as a Capuchin in Detroit?

Igor de Bliquy • I’m very happy here. The Capuchins of Detroit are engaged in a great service. They have two Soup Kitchens where the homeless can get 3 meals a day. They can also take a shower there, get help with paperwork and so on. There is also a food bank, second-hand shop, homework support for underprivileged young people, a drug abuse center …

A selection of my tasks:

  • spiritual work (confession) and accompanying pilgrimages
  • assistance in the Capuchin Emergency Services Center
  • Friday morning spiritual work (prayer and conversations) in the Soup Kitchen
  • spiritual counseling for two people at the Jefferson House rehab center. One of the two has not returned after a day off. Today I have to drive around to see if I can find him. The other has been working for 6 months and has already made great progress. He hopes to become a part of us as a maintenance worker, building manager or soup kitchen support.

What attracts me to life as a Capuchin in Detroit? The combination of the ministry and the intense brotherhood among Capuchins and with people in poverty.

Not that it’s all roses and roses. The social problems are huge. Last week (not with us) a homeless man went on a rampage because he was not admitted to the shelter due to the impact. He shot two guards …

We are 22 brothers in our community, including about 5 people in their 30s and 40s. The largest group consists of people in their 70s and 80s, but they are also usually still active in service work. When the volunteers dropped out after the shooting, they jumped in, each to the best of their ability.

In the meantime, stay connected to Meersel-Dreef.

Yes. The app was a task for Flanders. My next project is the translation of two textbooks on Franciscan spirituality (from English to Dutch). How did the idea for the app come about?

We were looking for a way to give visitors to the experience center the opportunity to dive even deeper into the content. We sent a project proposal to Space4Grace and got a budget that allowed us to develop a real app.

How did you approach the elaboration?

We wrote out the project and let different companies pitch their ideas through a temporary office for web designers. In the end, we chose a company in Montenegro. Employees were introduced to the experience center’s various spaces via a video. I forwarded texts so they knew what it was all about. As you can see in the video above, the young professionals really enjoyed working on it. Usually they are involved in purely commercial matters, now they could really think about how the content is best expressed.

The development of the app has required a lot of consultation, but it makes you even more satisfied!

What are you most happy with?

The fresh design! I also think the app succeeds in connecting people on two tracks: with other people and with God. The app can be our spiritual compass for exploring unknown digital paths and fraternally finding our way through the global connection.

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